July 21, 2018

OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 7/21/2018 ~ Summer Clearance and Such

This week's shoebox shopping got of too a good start when I found some fun stuff at Hobby Lobby for 80% off

Next day I stopped at Dollar Tree to pick up the pencil sharpeners we like to use for our shoeboxes-often they're harder to find closer to shoebox packing time, so got what I needed now-if you can't find them in your store, they are available to purchase online and possibly pick up for free in the store. (affiliate link-I'll be compensated if you purchase after clicking on it)

Also stopped at a Mighty Dollar to get the rest of the balls we needed for our boxes, plus the whistles were buy 1 get 3 free, so got some of those!

Finally, I got a code for penny prints at Walgreens so got 25 (the limit) of those for our shoeboxes.  Plus the pencil cases they had on sale for half off-which I plan to use to make Pencil Granny Filler Packs like last year.

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $33.12  

Saved $62.95 or 65%

Saved thru clearance Hobby Lobby Clearance:  $45.47 
Saved through B1G3 deals: $3
Saved through Walgreen's photo discount code: $8 
Saved through Walgreen's Sale:  $6.50  

This post contained an affiliate link and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, this helps me afford the time to write this blog and keep up the Facebook page.  But, I only share affiliate links for items I think would be good for shoeboxes, and fellow shoebox packers.  Most the time it will be things I've personally reviewed or packed.

July 14, 2018

OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 7/14/2018 ~ Dollar General Deals and more

I had a pretty good week-was able to get most of the remaining school supplies we needed!!  Dollar General was having some back-to-school sales, plus $5 off when you spent $15, which made for an even better deal, here's what I was able to get at a few different stores/days.:

I also stopped by Mighty Dollar and picked up a couple things:

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $43.16 

Saved $67.50 or 61%

Saved thru Dollar General sale prices:  $52.50 
Saved through Dollar General $5 off $15 deal: $15 

Plus, I got this photo text from my aunt, she was able to get the crayons we needed:

July 7, 2018

OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 7/7/2018 ~ Great Deals-Saved 85%

I was able to get some pretty good deals for shoeoxes this week!  First I got some nice clearance at Hobby Lobby-some 66% off summer, plus a couple craft kits more like 95% off!

I went to a thrift store, I was able to get some new games, a math kit whose packaging was pretty messed up and missing a few pieces, but the 4 pieces that were there were really cute and unused, so I'll take them out and send them.  Also, a like new stuffed that I just couldn't pass up-too cute!!

I went to Bargain Hunt-nothing too exciting, but did pick up a few fidget spinners-I know there's some controversy about these, but these ones seemed study, and I'll only put them in the oldest kids boxes.

I stopped at Big Lots to pick up some of the $0.17 notebooks-I was able to use the $5/$15 coupon I'd gotten for signing up to their loyalty program.

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $20.07  
Saved $112.39  or  85%

Saved thru clearance:  $17.13
Saved through Thrift Store special: $1

Saved through Bargain Hunt prices: $6.72
Saved through watching Bargain Hunt % off: $7.84
Saved through Big Lots Back-to-School prices: $74.70 
Saved through Big Lots Coupon:  $5 

June 30, 2018

OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 6/30/2018 ~ Aunts

 We didn't get any shopping done in the past week, but that doesn't mean our stockpile didn't grow!  Thanks to my aunts, it actually grew quite a bit! :)  First, the aunt who packs with us came for a visit with a stash she'd built up of packing items.

Then I got a box from my other aunt who had called when she found a deal on flip-flops to see if/what kind/how many we needed.  She and my great aunt cut off all the extra packaging, and got them all ready for us to pack!

Finally, I asked a friend if she had any leftover bags from the VBS she was running if I could have them for shoeboxes-she brought me the few that were left.  Then she asked if I had any use for lanyards as they had more of those left.  I said I sure could use them-I have whistles to hang on them if nothing else!  Such colorful and practical items!

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $0

June 16, 2018

OCC Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 6/16/2018 ~ Tools

We had a really good week for tools/practical items for our 10-14 boy boxes.  First, we had a gift card for Harbor Freight for shoeboxes, so my Dad and I went to check out what they had he wanted for the 10-14 boy boxes he packs.  Thanks to a lot of ideas shared on the Simply Shoeboxes Facebook Page, we had a lot of ideas what to look for!  We planned to pick up a lot of stuff and both check out with 20% off & free item coupons, plus make a plan for what to pick up with future coupons.  We were able to get what we wanted to pick up right away, and leave a good amount left to pick up in the weeks/months ahead as we get coupons.  So much fun stuff:

We like to send work gloves in all our older boxes, and my dad was really excited about the leather ones.  Also some tools-we went with screwdrivers and pliers as they're more universal than say wrenches in metric or standard, and Dad wasn't too thrilled with the hammers.  We got one tool box to pack as a shoebox.  Also some really nice tool bags that we think we'll be able to fit creatively in reasonable sized shoeboxes.  Plus some wooden 3D puzzles-these are really great as 10-14 boy toys were on my "still needed" list and that checked them off, and I wasn't planning on being able to use the gift card value toward that!!

My sister and I ran buy today when out running errands, and what we were planning to buy was only $0.99 this week-and the 20 % off worked on it, so we spent less than $2 from the gift card on all of this.

Then, we stopped at Mighty Dollar, and were able to find some nice, 80# test weight para-cord to send in boxes or as drawstring for our pencil bags. 

I think we're going to have some great 10-14 boy boxes with these practical items, plus the normal, game, toys, stuffed animal, ball, clothing item(s), hygiene, school and art supplies!  I'm really enjoying adding tools to the boxes-probably kind of a replacement for the space candy used to take.  Here's a tool themed box I packed last year.

Spent from shoebox packing budget: $8.54 

Spent from free gift cards: $121.27  

Saved thru Harbor Freight Coupons:  $13.96

Saved by Mighty Dollar Prices over Original: $40

June 13, 2018

Stories and Advice from Shoebox Distributions in Malawi

On this blog I mostly write about packing, shopping, crafting, etc. for shoeboxes, but I thought it'd be encouraging to share some distribution stories, plus I love to get more ideas and feedback on things to include from first hand reports.  Since I've never been on a distribution, I send questions to those who have.

My name is Debbie Pottorff and I’m the Church Relations Coordinator for the Big Bend / Tallahassee Area (Florida / P.R. Region) My husband, John, and I have been married for decades now and have 5 grown children (complete with grandchildren, children-in-laws, and “bonus” grandchildren).  We’re still both working full time but since the kids are gone (out of the house) our lives would seem a bit empty without our shoebox kids.  John is the leader of the Main Drop-Off location in our Area and since our Area Team is relatively small, we try to help out our Area Coordinators in other roles, as best we can.  We truly believe in the OCC mission, the Great Commission and Matthew 1:8  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."  For us, this is the way to live!   Our Area Team has a facebook page:  OCC Tallahassee/Big Bend FL that we'd love to have anyone to "like" and follow and we have a monthly email newletter that can be accessed throught the fb page.

>>When & where did you distribute shoeboxes? 
I was invited to go on a Harvest Vision Trip to Malawi in May of 2018 and I definitely brought back far more to share than I had expected from this adventure.

>>Please share a little about your trip and the distributions and about how many kids were at the distribution(s) you attended? 
When we arrived in Malawi, we were divided into three teams.  Each team consisted of about 10-12 Connect Volunteers and OCC staff members, plus 2 interpreters and 1-2 members of Malawi’s National Leadership Team. During our stay, each team attended 5 different Outreach Events (Distributions) and one The Greatest Journey Event.  My team’s Outreach Events were to schools and churches and had anywhere from 95 – 200 children present.  The Greatest Journey Event was to one of their weekly classes at a church and was attended by about 25 enthusiast students.

>>What's your favorite memory? 
The favorite memory about my trip is what “My Story” and my presentation to share with groups and churches in my area will be about:  Spiritual Warfare.  My team’s very first Event was to the first graders at Mziiza Primary School.  We were given this brief description of the location. The community surrounding the school is heavily influenced by a traditional occultic religion that focuses on worship of the spirits of the dead.  Ritual ceremonies are held in the graveyards and much of the practices are kept secret, known only to members.  Children are initiated into this secret society at a young age, sometimes forcibly.” A similar description was also given for a few other locations in our Team packet so we didn’t think much of it. 

Following the typical Outreach event (consisting of music, a gospel presentation, introduction of the Greatest Gift, passing out & opening of the shoeboxes, interaction with the children, and a time of prayer with the Pastor & Directors) we loaded up on the bus and went just around the corner where, unknown to us, we were escorted to a row of chairs in the front row of a circle that was beginning to form.  At first the circle was only a couple of people deep but as all the children from the school and most of the adults from the village continued to arrive, the circumference appeared to swell to about 4-6 people thick.  Soon the women started a singing chant that was then accompanied by drums and eventually the first two “spirit dancers” arrived.  The village chief was translating (or giving a description of) what was happening at first but later ceased.  These “spirits” were not friendly and the stories surrounding them were far from heartwarming.  Still, not quite sure what we were experiencing, our collective feeling was “uncomfortable” to say the very least.  We witnessed about 4 or 5 of these different demonstrations and looking around the circle I noticed a group of little 5-6 year old girls, from the school, with looks of sheer terror on their faces.(It must have been at this time when I realized this was a very real happening and I wasn’t at a Disney World performance.)  Fast forward a few demonic demonstrations and I look over at the girls again.  One little girl has opened up her GO box and taken out her brand new blonde Barbie and she and her friends are now oblivious to their dark surrounds and playing with her new toy that was packed, with love, by someone who wanted to share the hope and love found in Jesus Christ with these children.  Allelujah!

I do want to point out that the older children in the Mziiza Primary School had received shoeboxes last year and many were given the opportunity to take part in The Greatest Journey.  And, for those that completed the course, not a single one has returned to the graveyard rituals.  The presence of Operation Christmas Child in this area has also resulted in families turning to Christ and leaving behind the magic and witchcraft which are dominant in this community.  There is heavy spiritual warfare for the souls of these people. Please pray for these children and their families.

God has definitely shown me that spiritual warfare is real and I intend on using this experience to make sure my fellow shoebox packers remember to pray and join in the battle for the souls of children (and their families) all over the world.

>>What item(s) did you notice the kids really enjoying and/or needing? Maybe something you'll be adding to or emphasizing more in your packing it the future?
It would be very hard to pick one item that most of the children enjoyed or seemed to need. I will say that at one event you’d ask them what they got in their box and almost all of them would simply hold up their flip flops.

And, while I would always advise people to pray over your box and if you feel led to pack an item (not on the inappropriate list)…just do it but if you’re trying to decide on what type of ball to pack and not feeling led in any certain directions, pack a soccer or other round ball. I spent a lot of time with the older boys and most of them had never seen nor heard of American football. Then when you’d try to explain it was a football they’d try to play with it by kicking it. I’m sure they’ll eventually figure out a fun use.  The other interesting gift was a ball & glove.  (And I would never encourage against these because they are BIG items in Central & South America.) The boys in Malawi weren’t quite sure what the glove was.  One guy finally decided the glove was a hat.  Through our interpreter (named Hope) I did explain that the glove went on his hand but then when Hope tried to show him how, he had never put on a mitt and tried showing him on the wrong hand.  Children are very resourceful so I’m sure all their gifts will be put in use but just keep in mind that soccer balls seem to be universal.

 >>Is there anything you personally won't be packing as much in boxes in the future based on what you saw?
There isn’t an item that I won’t be packing in the future but I will try to emphasize to others to please remove the packaging when possible (we had a hard time even with our box cutters and scissors!) and please try to make sure to send “working” items.  I’m not saying it has to be “top of the line” quality but at least make sure the noisemakers make noise and the yo-yo does more than just yo (make sure they spin freely).

 >>Is there anything else you'd like to share with fellow shoebox packers?
Please, please, please don’t get hung up so much on the gifts inside the box that you forget about the bigger purpose:The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to children in need around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

REMINDER: this advice is just based on one person's opinion based on their personal experience in one country.  This is not official from Operation Christmas Child whose guidelines are the only thing incumbent on us to follow and are based on thousands of distributions in dozens of countries over many years and based on feedback from local partners as well as customs regulations.  These regulations are different for different sending countries, so be sure to check out the rules for your own country/region (OCC USAOCC CanadaOCC UKOCC AUOCC Japan, etc.).

Disclosure: Links on Simply Shoeboxes may be affiliate partners or referrals.